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Right Impression at the Front Desk Helps Sell Walk-Ins.
By Nicole Ollis
Saturday, 19th May 2007
 
We all know that you never get a second chance to make a good impression - 

But just how can hotel management ensure that they are making the right impression at the front desk? 

As a General Manager, I believe that it is my responsibility to ensure that our guests find both efficient service and a positive, outgoing, and friendly attitude the minute they arrive at reception.  Here is my advice on front desk etiquette:

Proper staff attitude starts with management and is then diffused to members of staff.  This means that the positive attitude that I want my staff to have when dealing with our customers must start with me.  If I approach my duties with a smile, a can-do attitude, and a determination to meet or exceed our customers' expectations, my staff is more likely to do the same. 

The most important part of the uniform my front desk staff wears is their smile.  This smile should reflect the pride they take in their work and it should be worn not only when greeting guests in person, but  should also be "heard" when talking on the phone.  Guests should ideally be greeted within 10 seconds of their arrival.  This can sometimes be complicated by the fact that your staff may already be serving another guest. 

However, I have trained my staff to acknowledge new guests immediately and to tell the new guests that they will be with them momentarily, even if they are presently serving someone else.  Phones should  be answered within four rings and with a tone of voice that reflects his or her smile.

Another way that I ensure that my staff has the right attitude towards our guests is by treating them in the same way that I want them to treat our customers.  I strive to create an environment in which my staff can be happy with their present job and take initiatives in new areas.   I consider their individual needs and desires, and they in turn do the same for our guests.  Since we are a property with a lot of repeat business, we try to learn our guests' names and greet them by name when we see them.  Both my staff and I do this on a regular basis; it lets our guests know that they are not just a room number but also a person whose business we value.

 I also give high priority to thorough training in efficient procedures.  Proper training on all of the front office equipment, including the switchboard, computers, and office machines, not only increases efficiency, but also makes it less likely that your staff will get frustrated and take it out on your guests.  Moreover, if your staff can efficiently operate your computer system, the process of registering guests is quicker and the billing process upon their exit will be correct.  This is crucial to leaving a lasting good impression.

Finally, we must also make it a point to inform guests of all of the amenities we offer as well as hours of operation and local area information.  If the guest is not given this information, he or she may not realize what you are offering and what value it represents in the amount they are paying.  The guest should be aware that we are staffed 24 hours per day and that we will be glad to answer any questions or concerns they might have.  This gives our guests a point of reference, whether they would like to learn about local restaurants or whether they need a light bulb replaced in their room.

It is my job as a General Manager to make sure that our staff is equipped with the knowledge they need in order to efficiently perform their jobs.  It is also my responsibility to create an environment in which they can thrive professionally.  My individual attention and positive attitude towards my staff encourages my staff to treat our guests in the same way I treat them—with respect, a can-do attitude, and a smile. 

Not only do we then make a good first impression, but we create a great lasting impression of our hotel and its service, which makes guests likely to return again and again.

Hamister Hospitality Group is one of the hospitality industry's fastest growing hotel management companies. Founded in 2004 by The Hamister Group, Inc., a leader in assisted living and health care management for over 25 years, the company now manages five hotels in Tennessee and Kentucky. Our web site: www.hamisterhospitality.com
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